Accountable to No One

If you’ve spoken with a teacher lately, you might have heard that they are worried about having an agreement this year. You might have heard that they feel offended to only be offered a short-term agreement by the negotiating team at Jeffco Public Schools after almost 6 months of work. The following letter offers insight into how the very people serving our children are feeling.

 

If you’re a parent, you should know that class sizes are covered in this agreement. That’s right – teachers have long advocated alongside parents in ensuring that class sizes are not negatively impacting student learning.  While some of our children are in classes of up to 38 children, the Board Majority continues to ignore our concerns and remains unresponsive and unaccountable to the community while offering up mindless rhetoric to the media and boasting of their false accomplishments. Meanwhile, every parent in Jeffco is concerned about the number of teachers who left our schools this past year and positions continue to be unfilled.

 

From: Tammie Peters To: “board@jeffco.k12.co.us” <board@jeffco.k12.co.us>; “jnewkirk@jeffco.k12.co.us” <jnewkirk@jeffco.k12.co.us>; “juwillia@jeffco.k12.co.us” <juwillia@jeffco.k12.co.us>; “kewitt@jeffco.k12.co.us” <kewitt@jeffco.k12.co.us>; “ldahlkem@jeffco.k12.co.us” <ldahlkem@jeffco.k12.co.us>; “jcfellma@jeffco.k12.co.us” <jcfellma@jeffco.k12.co.us> Sent: Monday, July 20, 2015 9:10 AM Subject: Length of contract

Dear members of the Jeffco School Board: This is the first time I have ever written to the Board as a whole (I did write one letter to Ms. Williams in May). I am a teacher at Golden High School, and I have been a successful teacher in Jeffco for over 20 years. It is my understanding that the contract negotiations have stalled because you have directed your bargaining team to offer a contract to your teachers for only 10 months, as opposed to the 4 years that we have had since long before I began teaching in this District. It is my understanding that JCEA representatives were willing to negotiate to a 3-year contract and that limited re-negotiations (such as about compensation) would happen annually.

Here is my question: Why? You gave Mr. McMinimee, a new superintendent, a 3 year contract, but you only offer me, a proven veteran with a stellar track record, a 10 month contract? You were each elected to serve for 4 years, a contract with the voters of Jeffco, yet you only offer me 10 months? I have invested 20 years in Jeffco as a teacher and instructional coach, but you are only willing to invest 10 months in me? I am planning on retiring from Jeffco, which means I am investing the next 10 or more years into this District, but you are only willing to invest in me for 10 months?

Perhaps I seem to be taking this too “personally.” But it is personal. This is my career and my profession. I have chosen to dedicate my life and my talents to the students in this District. I have weathered several “storms” in this District and I haven’t bailed. I have adjusted to each new curricular demand of this District in order to best serve my students. Yet, you are not willing to ensure my working conditions for more than 10 months.

If you are worried about whether I will continue to be a good teacher, an “effective teacher,” I believe the team has negotiated ways for you to end the contract with me (to release me from the District) for cause. I would be horrified if you believed that you had to offer a short contract because you believe all the thousands of teachers of Jeffco will fail in their jobs.

I have heard it has something to do with fiscal calendars and wanting to “test drive” the new contract for a short period. For at least 35 years, our contract has been for multiple years and has expired in August — I don’t recall hearing anything about fiscal difficulties or planning challenges during that time. As for the “test drive,” of course parts of the contract should be tweaked if needed (just as my instruction is constantly tweaked), but to start over and waste all the work that has been done so far seems highly foolish.   So, once again, my question is simple: why are you willing to only commit to me for 10 months? Why am I only worth a 10 month agreement?

Thank you for your attention.
Tammie Peters